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Larry Downes: "How some cities are attracting 5G investments ahead of others" (Washington Post)

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As communities across the United States wait to learn how high-speed mobile networks will figure in a long-promised infrastructure plan, some cities are already attracting private investment in next-generation 5G networks. They are doing so by finding new ways to collaborate with network and equipment providers, creating a set of “best practices” that other local governments can follow. The new networks will be critical for handling the sevenfold increase that Cisco projects for mobile Internet traffic as well as the billions of new connected devices attached to the Internet of Things and connected local infrastructure, or what is known as “smart cities.” A major stumbling block, however, is fitting new 5G investments into local zoning, permitting and other regulations optimized for prior network architectures. 5G’s architecture is radically different from its earlier counterparts. Instead of widely spaced large cell towers, 5G relies on smaller but denser configurations of shoebox-size antennae, many of which will be attached to existing buildings, streetlights and utility poles.

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